Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

When did Lincoln finally depart from Springfield, Illinois?

On February 11, 1861, a special train had been rented for the occasion. Just before he boarded, Lincoln spoke to the crowd. “My friends,” he began, “I cannot sufficiently express to you the sadness I feel at this parting. To you I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me perhaps greater than that which has devolved upon any man since the days of Washington. He never could have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I can do nothing without the same divine aid which sustained him … that divine assistance without which I can not succeed, but with which success is certain.… I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”

Aboard the train were Lincoln’s two personal secretaries—John Hay and John Nicolay—and most, but not all, of the Lincoln family. An important person in the group was Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, a young man of twenty-four who was about as close to the president as any one person could be.


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